Polestar chose Toronto to debut the Polestar 2, its newest electric vehicle, despite the fact Ontario pulled the plug on its EV incentive program last summer.
Polestar is the electric vehicle startup brand from Volvo, which is owned by Chinese automaker Geely.
“Toronto was one of the markets that was most buoyant at this point, and will be in the future as well, not only because of the demographics of the customer but also the EV infrastructure,” said Greg Hembrough, head of Polestar Americas.
The Polestar 2, a five-door liftback, was displayed at Billy Bishop airport and at Union Station during September. That was followed by an invitation-only meet-and-greet with potential customers on Sept. 27.
The Polestar 2 is a mainstream model and follows the much more exotic Polestar 1 PHEV, of which Polestar is building (and has already pre-sold) 500 units for the 2020 model year. The Polestar 2 will debut as a highly-equipped Intro package for $69,900, before shipping; lower-priced models will come later.
When the cars go on sale in June 2020, Polestar plans to have three Canadian outlets, one each in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
“We are very close to finalizing our relationships” with retailers in those cities, Hembrough said.
Each Polestar store will be owned and operated by an existing Volvo retailer but will have its own separate location and a very different modus operandi. Unlike Tesla-style direct sales, Polestar’s model is closer to that of Genesis, which is Hyundai’s luxury line.
There will be small — about 270-square-metre — retail “spaces” in high-traffic downtown locations with room for two or three vehicles and three or four no-commission product specialists with two or three demonstrators on hand nearby.
“We will always have a retail partner in the North American market place [who] will always be involved in the negotiations and transacting with the customer,” Hembrough said.
Dealers will carry no inventory.
“If a customer wishes to purchase a car the retailer will have the opportunity to order a vehicle or one that’s actually at the port of entry in Halifax, or in-bound on a ship,” Hembrough said.
As for future expansion, Hembrough said Polestar would add more cities — Quebec City or Calgary, for example — rather than adding more points in an existing city.
“Our commitment is profitable growth, and we want to ensure the throughput of those retailers is at the point that they have the profitability and the return on sales before we start to move to more retailer,” he said.
Service work will take place at the Volvo-retailer partner. Hembrough said this will involve minimal investment; about $1,500 for special tools, and certification of at least one technician. He noted that EVs need much less service work than conventional vehicles and 85 per cent of repairs don’t require a lift.
Owners will be able to book their cars in with an App if desired, and complimentary pickup and drop-off of a loaner will be provided.